Word Guild Award for Best Young Adult fiction 2016
Grace Irwin Award 2016
Literary Classics silver medal for Y/A fiction 2016
Shortlisted for the Frank Hegyi Award-Ottawa Independent Writers Literary Classics silver medal for High school fiction 2017
Set in 1936 Montreal, A Secret Music is the story of Lawrence Nolan, a sensitive fifteen-year-old piano prodigy who grows up in the shadow of his mother’s mental illness. Forced to keep this shameful secret, he attempts to raise himself and his ten year old brother. He counteracts the deep ache and creeping mistrust caused by his mother’s emotional absence by escaping into the intense realm of Chopin and Schubert, the only language he understands. When his brother becomes ill, he is left with enormous responsibilities. At a piano competition in Montreal, Lawrence makes a climactic decision that puts his future on hold in order to salvage his family life.
In A Secret Music, Susan Doherty Hannaford re-creates the Depression-Era world of Montreal and demonstrates how music can redeem a life.
“Brought to life by a sharp eye for physical and sensory detail and meticulous historical accuracy.”
— Montreal Gazette
“A powerful debut.”
— Toronto Star
“A pleasure of A Secret Music is how fond we grow of nearly all of the characters. Full disclosure: I cried at least once while reading this book and did not want to part with the Nolan family when I turned the last page. A Secret Music sings.”
— Montreal Review of Books
About the Author:
Susan Doherty Hannaford is a Montreal-based writer. Her affiliations include the Quebec Writers' Federation (QWF), the YMCA, and the Douglas Institute. She has done extensive research in the areas of mental illness, and is currently working on a biography about an Ottawa woman's lifelong battle with schizophrenia.